CD Review: ‘With Serpent Scourge’ by Necrowretch

French blackened death metal trio Necrowretch play it safe on its sophomore effort, With Serpents Scourge. There are some killer riffs on such songs as “Feast Off Their Doom,” but there is little that truly jumps out and grabs the listener by the throat. It is conventional death metal, complete with “lo-fi” production and an emphasis on speed over complexity. Vocalist/guitarist Vlad has certainly studied his old school metal, ripping out serpentine (cheap I know) riffs with baroque flair. He has also perfected his black metal screech, which is in full effect on the title track and “By Evil Beyond.” However, despite this great effort, we have heard this before. “The Bells of Evil Schism” sounds like old school Entombed and Sepultura. The blast-beat heavy “He Thrones On My Sins” is clearly influenced by Altars of Madness era Morbid Angel.

I totally get that bands are influenced by other bands. In fact, I am a die-hard fan of death and grind from the 80s to mid-90s. However, there is a thin line between giving homage and retreading territory. It is a hard line to walk which is why so many “revival” metal bands are either good, mediocre or bad. Necrowretch is not a band by any means. It is just that there are so many bands that are better at playing this subgenre.

With Serpent Scourge is a by the numbers blackened death metal record. I continually stress it is not a bad record, but there is little to make it stand out. Necrowretch is only two albums into its career, so it is possible the band will release a great disc. But for now, Necrowretch has yet to hit a home run.

For more Necrowretch, visit www.necrowretch.net